New organization Girls Block hosts their debut event Saturday, March 9 in downtown Columbia featuring female artists from across South Carolina’s. Taking place at several venues on the 1600 Block of Main St., the event looks to not only elevate underrepresented voices, but also inspire and honor women across the state.
Recently founded by Catherine Hunsinger and Kati Baldwin, the event goes beyond their cornerstone of music, kicking off at 9 AM at Soda City Market showcasing a collective of women and femme vendors. Mid-day at The Nick there will be a showing of Dreamgirls followed by a talkback about the Girls Rock mission and a solo acoustic set by Fleur Geurl (Danielle McConaghy).
We caught up with the Girls Block founders for a Q&A about the event and what’s in the store for the future of the organization!
What inspired the creation of Girls Block?
The two of us separately had the same idea — to create an event that created an opportunity for female artists to step out of their artistic closets and to grow their art forms and hearts. The music and arts scene in Columbia is phenomenal and the men on the scene are supremely deserving of the opportunities they’ve received… But when you step back and take a look at the big picture the women just aren’t showcased as often, which is a travesty given the number of unbelievably talented voices and visions there are in this city. When the two of us shared our similar ideas with each other, we realized that we’d created a multi-venue event, hosting lady musicians, and then a festival was born.
Everything has come together so fast. What have been some of the biggest challenges and hurdles and what has come together more easily than you imagined?
Planning a festival is expensive. Finding creative ways to fund a brand new festival with no track record has been challenging, but doable. Once the idea of Girls Block was born, we rapidly reached out to heavy hitting women in Columbia, and quickly garnered their support. Our challenges have gone quite hand in hand with the unexpectedly easy. It seems that, when we reach a hurdle, there’s always somebody there to lift us over it. We are women (and men!) supporting women through positivity – it’s been sort of magical and uplifting to watch it all come together.
The Girls Block mission statement mentions being “underpaid, underappreciated, and misrepresented”, what are some experiences you’ve had that have led you to these conclusions?
So much of the under-appreciation women feel and experience in the arts is due to the systematic removal of our voices for centuries. I do believe the world and specifically our community is ready to hear our voices, that they want to see our art, and that they want us to be unleashed… but, we’ve grown up with an ingrained understanding and acceptance that our work is worth less, our voices less valid, less trustworthy than a man’s – we are not legitimate. When music brings us to tears, we are “silly,” and weak; when we produce art that is outside of the box, we are eccentric; when we produce nude artwork, it is with an understanding that it will either be ogled or judged. A lot of our silence is a result of our fears, but our fear is founded somewhat on our femininity and therein lies the problem.
Now that the day is coming together, what do you imagine it being like from the start of the day at Soda City Market to the night-time events and performances?
A Carnivale for women! In my dreams, I see women in costumes, dancing in the street and celebrating one another. Realistically, we’re going to see an enormously cool variety of visual and performing artists from across the state. We begin the street festival at 9am, hosted by Deborah Adedokun and comedian, Rae Hatton. The street stage will host sketch comedy, a poetry and short story reading, belly dancing, yoga classes, dance classes, a panel with WREN, a drag show and more. The vendors include vintage clothing sales, visual art displays, and several very cool interactive experiences hosted by a variety of artists. Around 7pm, we move into the venues: Space Hall, Pastor’s Study at Lula Drake, and Hendrix where we’ll be hosting 15 musical acts with front-women from all over the state.
Where do you see it going in the future with how well everything is going so far?
Girls Block will, without a doubt, be an annually occurring event. We’ve been approached by venues from a few nearby cities in regards to transporting the block party to other blocks in other cities – featuring different female artists as we go. I love that idea, but it’s definitely a pipeline dream. In the meantime, we’ve launched a blog which we will be maintaining throughout the year which allows women in our community to speak about being a southern feminist and what their individual experiences have been.
The Space Hall of Columbia
8:30pm – The Long Con
9:30pm – Estee
10:30pm – Cry Baby
11:30pm -Taylor Alxndr
12:30am – Diaspoura
Pastor’s Study at Lula Drake
8pm – Say Femme
9pm- Brandy & the Butcher
10pm – Glass Mansions
11pm – Godis Tanesha
7pm – Jamie Gray
8pm – Cayla Fralick
9pm – Downtime
10pm – Paisley Marie
10:45pm – King Vulture (solo)